Biography of Fields, W. I.

Who lived many years in Fort Bend County, and died there, and whose remains rest in her soil, was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, March 2, 1834. In 1855 he went to Howard County, Indiana, and was made a Royal Arch Mason there in 1857.

In 1858 Mr. Fields moved to Grayson County, Texas, arriving here in January, but first returned to Kentucky from Indiana before concluding to make Texas his home. During those days the Indians often raided Cook and Montague Counties, and Mr. Fields accompanied several expeditions against them, in which battles were fought of more or less magnitude. In the fall of 1859 he was in the Wichita Mountains during an exceptionally dry year. Red River and, its tributaries were dry for 100 miles, but around the mountains were fine springs. The buffalo, were traveling south, and had to stop for water at these springs, feeding for fifteen or twenty miles around, and returning for eater at night. The whole country was black with them, and from the top of a, mountain overlooking the surrounding valleys thirty thousand buffalo could be seen at a sight, as near as could be estimated. There was no water due south from there for buffalo or stock of any kind for 200 miles, until the Brazos was realid, near Waco.

Mr. Fields had a corn crop in 1859 which was a failure, and having traveled over the northern States in 1856-57 got the idea of subsoiling. He put this in practice on his black waxy land in the fall of 1859 and spring of 1860, another dry year, and while the corn was all dried up in the country, having so much loose soil, his crop continued to grow and hold out, and finally a good rain fell, and he made fifty bushels to the acre, while others did not make two bushels to the acre.

There were cavalry companies of United States troops stationed at Fort Washita and Fort Arbuckle, and Fort Fields took a government contract to furnish Washita with twenty thousand dollars worth of corn at two dollars and fifty-six cents a bushel. The civil war broke out before he collected the money, and he had to make a trip to Washington City in June, 1861, from there to Fort Leavenworth, collected his money, and returned to Texas the last of July. He then purchased 250 beeves and drove them to New Iberia, La., for the Confederate army, and sold them for Confederate money, some of which he kept until the day of his death.

At the close of the war Mr. Fields came to Houston and bought cotton and shipped to New York and Boston, and wound up with forty thousand dollars. In 1866 he drove cattle to Kansas, and lost nearly all of them. Cotton being worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars a bale, he thought to repair his shattered fortune by raising cotton, and moving to Fort Bend County turned planter. He planted 325 acres in cotton, and lost five thousand dollars, only making seven bales. This broke him, but he would not give up the fight. The country was under what was called carpet bag and Negro rule, and Mr. Fields and a few others who said they were democrats organized and began to battle for white rule, and after about twenty years work gathered enough democrats to change the tide. At the time of his death the following appeared in print:
“Richmond, Texas, January 15th.
“Colonel W. D. Fields, of Sartartia, this county, died this morning at 11:25 of pneumonia, after an illness of ten days. Mr. Fields has been in feeble health for two years, but has been able two attend to business. He leaves a wife and seven children, four of whom are married. Mr. Fields is one of the largest planters in this county; has lived near Sartartia, for thirty-five years; was for four years county commissioner; for years made the best syrup in this portion of the State. The funeral will take place tomorrow, the 16th, at 2 p.m., from the family residence near Sartartia. Interment at Hodge Bend burial ground. The Masonic Lodge at this place, of which he was a charter member, will officiate. He was sixty-eight years of age.”

Mrs. McLaughlin, wife of D. F. McLaughlan, of Houston, is a daughter of Colonel Fields. Mr. McLaughlan lived for many years in Fort Bend, County, and belonged to the “Rosebud Club,” which finally developed into the `Jaybird Association.”



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